This wasn’t completely crazy because she was a girl who climbed trees high enough to watch me through the window of our second floor flat. She could also track down and pick up a snake, bait a hook and handle a caught fish without fussing. She could hang by her heels from the jungle gym and do a penny drop. No fear. And stand on the console of my old, orange Volkswagen station wagon to stick her head and arms out of the sun roof while we motored through the neighborhood.
She was a tough and beautiful cookie. Here she is in her overalls and her scuffed up shoes with her buddy.
On Christmas Day, 1982, I remember sitting with her on top of a picnic table at Doctor’s Park in Milwaukee. We were high on a hill overlooking Lake Michigan. The day was sunny and it was balmy – probably one of the warmest Christmases in history, certainly 60 degrees. There was no one there to take our picture because, well, like most of our life at that time, when I was a single mom to a single girl, there wasn’t anyone else there. It was just us.
Whenever I go to Doctor’s Park, I see that picnic table in pretty much the same place. I never pass it without thinking about that day. How warm it was. How we sat there – just the two of us – and looked down from the bluff at Lake Michigan.
A moment in time. That’s what it was.
That, and a gift never forgotten.